Stay Off Route 90 Bridge Even Before Closure

Stay Off Route 90 Bridge Even Before Closure

Here we go again – access will be limited to Ocean City starting next week with yet another bridge project about to get underway.

This time, it’s the eastern most Route 90 Bridge, which stretches almost two miles over the Assawoman Bay, that’s in need of emergency repairs. A routine inspection two weeks ago revealed a major deterioration of the span’s support structure, specifically underneath an 85-foot section at the span’s apex. Consequently, major inconveniences will be coming our way, as crews must close the bridge to improve the structure’s safety.

The bridge is still open today, but we recommend staying off the bridge entirely. It’s in such a state of disrepair that an emergency project has been authorized. Here’s a look at what exactly will be done, according to state roads officials:

— An 85-foot section of the bridge’s surface over the navigational channel will be removed;
— New steel replacement beams will be fabricated and put in place;
— A new concrete bridge deck on the newly placed beams will be poured;
— The new pavement will be restriped; and
— New raised pavement markers will be created.

This is quite an effort and will cost the state a lot of money and local residents a lot of headaches. The good news is the problems in the structural integrity of the bridge were found before anything regrettable occurred, such as an accident.

When exactly the bridge will be shut off to vehicular traffic is unknown, but sources say mid-week is most likely. Bids for the major undertaking on the state level will be opened on Monday night. Conceivably, preliminary work onsite could begin within the next couple days.

Our advice is to let that all play out and stay off the bridge over the next few days. If the work is so important to be done immediately, simply assume it’s dangerous and a risk to drive over until this work is complete. It’s just safer and why put yourself or loved ones at an unnecessary risk.

We feel the decision-makers have erred here in not closing the bridge already. It should have happened last week immediately after a default was found in the structure of the span, even if crews could not start work yet.

The benefit of hindsight makes the weight restrictions imposed last week look silly today. It’s no secret vehicles surpassing the 6,000-pound threshold were using the bridge because motorists had no idea how much their cars or trucks weighed. Later, message signs were changed to ‘PASSNGER VEHICLES ONLY’ (misspelling a result of sign space), which surely did not clarify the earlier confusion. There’s a lot of gray area when it comes to determining what’s a passenger vehicle and what’s not.

The entire situation with the bridge has been a concern over the last couple weeks, and wise souls were right to just avoid the bridge altogether out of safety concerns. The closure cannot happen soon enough. Once it’s shut off to traffic, crews will reportedly start on the work, and the sooner they get started the early the work will be completed.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.